Thursday, February 22, 2024

Marijuana Legalization Could Get A Boost Post COVID

It is conceivable that U.S. lawmakers will have no other choice but to look to legal marijuana as one way to raise our economy up from the ashes. 

American citizens are living in the darkest days of our lifetime. Not only is there a real threat of being swallowed up by some pesky virus, but because of all the business closings and mandatory lockdowns, the national economy is slipping further into dangerous territory with each passing day.

Despite the country looking mostly uninhabited out there, make no mistake, it’s in a state of complete and total bedlam. Some economists have said the United States is just one more lousy day from toppling into the second coming of the Great Depression. As sad as it may be, our well-being — at least what is left of it — all hinges on the ability of science to contain this virus.

The situation is so dire that even the White House is starting to panic. President Trump said recently that he wants to see the country back to business as usual by Easter to get the economy humming. This, in spite of the fact that health officials have said that such an irresponsible move would only serve to increase the spread of the coronavirus, infecting countless more people and contributing to more death. In other words, if you think this bug has done enough damage to the nation, its people and its money, well, Donnie, you haven’t seen anything yet. 

Thankfully, it will be up to the states to decide their respective timelines for when commerce can resume. The President is extremely limited in his power to make those kinds of decisions on his own. It’s not like he can demand “shelter-in-place” orders to be lifted or bully governors into ignoring health experts. So, rest easy, America, Donald Trump isn’t going to single handedly kill us all. 

RELATED: Will Cannabusiness Get Bailed Out From Losses During And After Pandemic?

One way or another, however, the U.S. economy, which is presently strapped to life-support, is going to need a miracle — several of them, in fact — to get back to good once the Coronapocalypse is over. And while it may still be too early to predict how that might go down, it is conceivable that U.S. lawmakers will have no other choice but to look to legal marijuana as one way up from the ashes. 

The cannabis industry is already feeling the love in states where it is legal. Most governments have deemed cannabis dispensaries “essential” operations and have not forced them to close as part of stay at home orders. Although it may not sound like a big deal, those who have been pushing for legalization over the past several decades can assure you, it is. As it was so eloquently put in a recent piece from the New York Times, allowing marijuana dispensaries to stay open during this crisis is “official recognition that for some Americans, cannabis is as necessary as milk and bread.”

Which State Will Legalize Marijuana First In 2020- Kentucky, Ohio Or Indiana?
Photo by RobinOlimb/Getty Images

If there is one thing that is true, it’s that a thriving economy is contingent on the prosperity of the middle class. Without ordinary people buying up television sets, new cars, homes and food, the country would fold. Consumer spending is responsible for around 70% of the national economy. We are the blood of America. It’s the reason this virus has Trump so rattled, and why Congress just passed a $2 trillion stimulus package. They didn’t do this out of the kindness of their black hearts, we assure you. It’s a life preserver being sent out in hopes that Americans will start spending again, hitting the economy with the proverbial defibrillator to wake it from the dead. It’s a temporary fix to an unprecedented problem.

More likely than not, though, the country will have to rebuild. That means we’re going to need businesses (at the local, state and national level) that can provide jobs, offer better than average wages and some security. 

Marijuana has already proven it can do all of that. Up until the virus forced much of the nation to close, the cannabis industry employed somewhere around 250,000 full-time workers. Most of these new, unskilled positions averaged between $12-$16 per hour, according to human resources experts

RELATED: How The Coronaviurs Has Negatively Impacted Marijuana Legalization

But it’s the potential legal cannabis could provide for our struggling economy post sickness that is really important. A study released last year by New Frontier Data shows a fully legal cannabis trade, one that is recognized at the federal level, could create 1.6 million jobs and contribute $128.8 billion to federal tax coffers. And that is something that lawmakers are going to want after the fallout of corona. 

It’s not wishful thinking, either. It’s history repeating itself. If the United States does experience another depression, which is possible, lawmakers will be desperate to revitalize the U.S. economy in every way imaginable – and they’ll want to do it fast. Considering that alcoholic beverages were used to rejuvenate America after the last one, marijuana will surely be on that list.  

During the Great Depression, the country needed the jobs and tax revenue it was losing due to alcohol prohibition. Fortunately, right around the time the economy started to crumble into deep pits of despair, the Democrats started to gain ground and alcohol was made legal again at the national level. We could see a reboot in 2021. Democrats are poised to take over Capitol Hill following the upcoming November election.

Call it a perfect storm, call it fate, call it whatever you want, but marijuana might be one of the country’s lifelines out of this virus. Congress has been pushing for this reform anyway for the past few years, only to be held back by Senate Republicans. But we could see prohibitionist attitudes changing post virus. And who knows, maybe the threat of destitution in the months to come could end up being the best thing for marijuana, the people and the nation as a whole. The only stipulation is we must first make it out alive.


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